This case study was written by the team at Oodles Corporation, currently raising funds in its second Regulation Crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder.
Everyone knows that college is the best time in a person’s life. There are many social activities to experience around campus with friends - eat at a hot new restaurant, go indoor wall climbing, or hang out at an on-campus event, among others.
Since 2017, the OodlesDeals mobile app (owned by Oodles Corporation) has provided college students “scorching” deals that cover all such social activities, with a patented process that gives students bigger discounts the more they do together. The app was initially trialed at the University of Oregon - Eugene, where it caught on with ~10% of the addressable student population within months of launch.
The Oodles Corporation management team feels very passionate about their company’s mission, wanting to take the concept of enabling social activities for college students to every college in the country. Building a community of energized OodlesDeals users is instrumental in achieving this mission. For this to become reality, they required a financial partner that could fuel the marketing, sales, and product development investment needed to expand to additional campuses.
As with every start-up, venture capital funding was an available option. However, the Oodles management team wanted a partner, especially at the initial stages of growth of the company, that understood and embraced the value of a community.
Said Sajal Sahay, CEO of Oodles Corporation, “The raw, organic power of a community such as Wefunder was very attractive to us, not only because of the hundreds of thousands of potential investors it would bring, but because many of these folks could provide unique insights to fine-tune our go-to-market strategy and ensure the customer experience of our app was first-rate.”
Oodles Corporation conducted a seed investment round via Wefunder in Summer 2017, with the goal of growing from the first University where the idea was trialed to three schools in the next twelve months and to build a “playbook” that could be scaled nationwide over time.
Oodles conducted many activities -- most at the recommendation of the Wefunder team, both pre- and post- launch of the fundraising campaign. These activities were on top of the critically important actual Wefunder Oodles investment page, which the Wefunder team worked closely with Oodles management to complete.
Pre-Launch Of Campaign
1. Creation of a summary investment deck, clearly identifying the problems being solved, both for the consumer and the vendor-partners of Oodles. Market research validating these problems was included in the deck, as was actual data of a test market where results from actual users and vendor-partners was highlighted.
2. Customer feedback, in the form of quotes and case-study information, was prominently displayed on the main wefunder.com/oodles page. There is no better advocate for the authenticity of a business than the actual customers it serves.
3. Kept the minimum investment amount very low so that all members of the Wefunder investment community could participate. This also kept true to the community funding value that was very important to the company.
Post-Launch Of Campaign
1. Made it a matter of priority to answer ALL questions posted on the Oodles Wefunder site within 72 hours of receipt. The answers provided were researched and backed-up by data, strategic thought, and clear enough to answer the underlying insight each question raised.
2. Published monthly updates, summarizing all aspects of the business highlighted in the investment deck, and accomplishments in the month vs the top metrics being measured. The goal was to ensure that every stakeholder interested in Oodles always knew where the company was in its lifecycle.
3. For those parties who reached out to Oodles management individually with a deeper interest in investing, pro-active calls were scheduled to answer any questions they might have.
All these activities had one thing in common — they required time from the management team to ensure quality content, plus clear articulation of results vs plans, both of which were always provided to every Wefunder investor interested in Oodles.
Within several months of the seed investment round on Wefunder, Oodles secured the $107k needed for this first phase of expansion. In fact, the seed round was oversubscribed by > 20%, and many of the investors involved with the seed round provided insights through questions and comments via the Wefunder Oodles portal, which helped accelerate the execution. Several investors even offered to help with the expansion of OodlesDeals in their geographic location, when the time was right!
In the nine months since the completion of the seed investment round, the OodlesDeals app has grown to three Universities, with many thousands of students using the app at each school at the food and entertainment vendors located around the campus. The app has maintained ratings of > 4.5 stars on both the iOS & Android app stores, with hundreds of students commenting positively about the unique value proposition and user experience.
Oodles Corporation has since started a second round fundraising on Wefunder, with the goal of expanding to up to fifteen Universities as the next step of their growth plans.
“It was natural for us to return to Wefunder for this second round of financing,” said Asheesh Barman, COO of Oodles Corporation. “We continue benefiting from the many Wefunder investors who join the Oodles family, not just financially, but also as valued providers of insights that will fuel our future growth. It’s also a pleasure to work with a team such as Wefunder, who share the same beliefs, both in the power of a community and in customer service that is second-to-none.”
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